MWRD Director Departs Under Gag Rule; Greens Call for Transparency and Accountability

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY, JULY 13
Greens for MWRD
campaign@mwrd-ilgp.org

Water Reclamation District Director Resigns with "Gag Order"; Green Party Candidates Call for Transparency and Accountability

MWRD head departs following outside investigation—with a $95,000 severance package and a non-defamation clause.

CHICAGO—David St. Pierre, the Executive Director of Chicago's Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD), resigned effective June 27th, taking with him $95,000 plus benefits in a severance package first reported by the Better Government Association in the Chicago Sun-Times.

The MWRD, a taxpayer-funded agency responsible for flood prevention and wastewater management, did not provide a reason for St. Pierre's departure in its press release. St. Pierre had been the subject of an investigation led by an outside law firm, but MWRD Commissioner Debra Shore told the Sun-Times that "a non-disparagement clause in the separation agreement with St. Pierre" prevented her from discussing the probe. 

Green Party candidates for the MWRD Board of Commissioners, the nine-member body that oversees the District and its $1.2 billion budget, quickly called for more openness and transparency, tying the mysterious departure to other recent ethical lapses at the District.

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Weekend of Action! - May 26-28

IT'S THE FINAL PUSH TO PUT A FIVE-CANDIDATE SLATE ON THE BALLOT!

Over the past three months, the Illinois Green Party has been fighting for the most fundamental of democratic rights: the opportunity for candidates to run for elected office.

We've been opposed at every step by Chicago's corrupt system -- the same system that elected Greens would work hard to reform. 

Now, Memorial Day weekend is our final chance to gather a pile of ballot access petitions that will withstand any challenge, putting a fifth Green Party candidate on the slate for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. Can you join us at one or more of our events?

  • Saturday, May 26th, 10:30am - Memorial Day Parade petitioning downtown! Meet up at Daley Plaza to get the early crowd, after which we'll spread out along the parade route.

  • Sunday, May 27th, 2:00pm - Neighborhood canvass in Rogers Park! This will be a door-to-door day of talking with the candidate's neighbors, meaning very friendly turf. We will be asking for signatures as well as passing out literature.

  • Monday, May 28th, 8:30am - Arlington Heights Memorial Day Parade petitioning! (Right off the Metra stop, or let us know if you need a lift out there from the city.)

  • Monday, May 28th, 8:30am - River Forest Memorial Day Parade petitioning! (Meet at Constitution Park in River Forest.)

We'll have petitioning supplies -- all you need to bring is your smiling face and weather-appropriate clothing!

Please RSVP at the linked event pages, or email campaign@mwrd-ilgp.org to let us know you're coming! An accurate count helps us prepare the right amount of materials.

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Candidate Geoffrey Cubbage talks MWRD with Hard Lens Media

An interview with candidate Geoffrey Cubbage, filmed on March 17th, aired this weekend on CAN-TV. The full video is available on YouTube: 

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Join the Fight: Five Greens on the Ballot in Chicago This November!

You know you're doing something right when they're fighting you as hard as the Chicago machine is fighting us!

Since mid-January 2018, Democrat-controlled election authorities in Chicago and Cook County have:

  • Announced a snap primary to fill a vacancy on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District by write-in-vote only—less than a week before the filing deadline for write-in candidates.

  • Refused to hold a Green Party primary in the City of Chicago—meaning no ballots, meaning no place for voters to write in the name of the Green Party candidate.

  • Held a primary in suburban Cook County in which voters at dozens of polling places were falsely told that there was no option to vote Green, and that the only options were Democrat and Republican—once again denying voters a place to write in the name of the Green party candidate.

It's an incredible amount of effort to expend defending a single seat on a waste treatment agency's Board of Commissioners from any ballot-listed challengers, and it made it impossible for the Green Party to secure the needed number of write-in votes for the fifth seat (called the "Vacancy of Bradford" seat) in the March primary. 

The good news: five seats are still in play on the nine-member Board of Commissioners! 

The Green Party may still place its nominee, Geoffrey Cubbage, on the November ballot by filing a "vacancy of nomination" petition. But to do it, we'll need to submit petitions signed by over 3,000 Cook County voters, by June 3rd of this year. 

Can you help us make this a contested election? Republicans never filed a candidate for the "Vacancy of Bradford" nomination, so the Green Party is the only party positioned to challenge all five Board of Commissioner seats this year. 

Here's how you can help out:

  • Sign up to circulate petitions on our Volunteer page! (Or, if you prefer, just email campaign@mwrd-ilgp.org and let us know you want to be involved.) You can download the petition sheets and the petitioner's guide and start gathering signatures right away, or we can bring a clipboard and printed materials out to you if needed. Even just a few sheets signed by friends and family helps!

  • Spread the word on social media! Share this post (Facebook link - Twitter link), and tell your friends that you're fighting for one of the most basic democratic rights in the world: the ability to have a choice between candidates when you go to the voting booth.

  • Donate to the campaign! We take no corporate donations, so individual, small-dollar contributions are the only thing keeping us going. (Did you know that, on average, each petition signature ends up costing roughly a dollar, even with volunteer circulators, due to printing, supply, and filing-related costs? That means if we raise just $3000, we should easily be able to make our goal!)

This is a critical opportunity to directly challenge one of Chicago's most corrupt institutions—but only if we collect the needed signatures, putting five Greens on the ballot for five seats!

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Green Party Slates Geoffrey Cubbage for Vacancy of Bradford Nomination

2018 is an exciting year in the normally low-profile Metropolitan Water Reclamation District election: due to a pair of vacancies, five of the nine Commissioner seats—a controlling majority—will be on voters' ballots in November.

Because no candidate in the Green Party primary received 1,720 write-in votes in the write-in-only "Vacancy of Bradford" election for the fifth ballot line, the party now has what is referred to as a "vacancy in nomination," which can be filled by an appointee of the Green Party who gathers the required number of ballot signatures. 

The Green Party has named Geoffrey Cubbage, who was a registered write-in candidate for the "Vacancy of Bradford" election, to fill the vacancy in nomination. Geoffrey Cubbage will now need to gather 1,720 ballot access petition signatures from voters within the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (which is roughly contiguous with Cook County, although a handful of municipalities lie outside its service area). 

To help petition, please sign up at the Volunteer page for the "petitioner" role, or contact volunteer@ilgp.org, or call (773) 809-4547. 

The Greens for MWRD campaign is also accepting donations for the petition drive! We take no corporate donations, only individual contributions, and funds are spent on campaign materials or in-house labor, never on private consultants or corporate advertising.

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Preliminary Statement on Vote Suppression in Cook County, 2018 Primary Election - Illinois Green Party

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 20, 2018
Illinois Green Party
Secretary@ILGP.org

PRELIMINARY STATEMENT ON VOTE SUPPRESSION IN COOK COUNTY (2018 PRIMARY ELECTION)

COOK COUNTY -- The Illinois Green Party strongly condemns the conduct of poll workers in Cook County during the 2018 primary elections.

Our party has been contacted by voters from over fifteen different polling locations, spanning at least nine of suburban Cook County's townships, who were told by Cook County poll workers that they could not vote in the Green Party primary, and that only Republican or Democrat ballots were available.

This is a flagrant disenfranchisement of voters who wished to participate in a legal, properly registered primary election. The Illinois Green Party is an established party with a registered write-in candidate within Cook County, and fully entitled to the same primary process as the Democrat and Republican parties. 

The conduct of poll workers in denying Green Party primary participation to Cook County voters is inexcusable. Whether it represents a lack of proper training or deliberate vote suppression on the part of the Cook County Clerk's office, the effect is the same: the disenfranchisement of voters whose first choice was to participate in the Green Party primary.

We will continue to reach out to our supporters, and to compile as complete and accurate a list as we can of those voters who wished to vote Green in the suburban precincts but were denied the opportunity to do so.

For questions or media requests, or to add your organization's voice to our statement in support of fair, open elections, contact secretary@ilgp.org or call (773) 809-4547.

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Corruption in Cook County? Vote "NO MORE!" on March 20th!

Here's a story that stinks: Cook County's sewage management and flood prevention agency, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD), costs taxpayers more than a billion dollars a year.

Where's all that money going? Turns out, about 60% of all contracts approved by the Board of Commissioners of the MWRD went to their own campaign donors.

You read that right: a handful of private companies give major campaign donations to keep the incumbent Commissioners (all Democrats) elected, and in return, the Board approves hundreds of millions of dollars of contracts for those same companies. 

Is there any return on that taxpayer investment? Not much—the Chicago Tribune found that, on average, the MWRD was discharging raw sewage into the waterways every six days. In 2017, there were nearly 2000 separate raw sewage dumps throughout Cook County. For a billion bucks a year, that's pretty poor performance.

It stinks—but voters can take action on March 20th!

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Vote March 20th to Stop Raw Sewage Dumping in Cook County!

Cook County taxpayers spend over a billion dollars a year on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD).

In return, they're supposed to get clean water and effective sewage treatment—but reporting by the Chicago Tribune showed that the MWRD dumps raw, untreated sewage into the waterways every six days, on average, often for multiple days in a row during periods of heavy rain. There were roughly 2000 individual "combined sewer outflows" (the technical term for raw sewage releases) in 2017 alone. 

That's an unacceptable level of contamination, and because of it, the water quality in Chicago and Cook County waterways often fails to meet EPA minimum standards. Despite those failings, MWRD leadership described their system as "working as intended" following rains that caused multiple discharges this February.

The good news is, voters can take direct action on March 20th!

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Incumbent Democrat Cites Cook County Ethics Standards as Model; Breaks Them Repeatedly

It's a unique approach for a politician asked about pay-to-play donations: hold up the ethics standards of Chicago and Cook County, famous worldwide for their machine politics and backroom deals, as the model for your campaign.

In a Daily Herald article on the appearance of pay-to-play corruption at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD), incumbent Commissioner Debra Shore, a Democrat, defended her campaign contributions by claiming that her campaign followed ethics rules "similar to" those used by the City of Chicago and Cook County.

There's just one problem: Shore, whose campaign committee has taken more than $90,000 in donations from firms that received millions of dollars in MWRD contracts during her time on the Board of Commissioners, has repeatedly taken donations that would violate those ethics rules.

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Water District Democrats Gave Campaign Donors $722 Million in Contracts

There's money in the sewer system, and not just the loose change that falls down drains: over the past five years, elected Democrats on the Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) awarded their campaign donors more than $722 million in taxpayer-funded contract spending.

A comparison of campaign finance records and MWRD contracting records shows that roughly 60% of all contract spending approved by Board of Commissioner votes in the past five years (the period covered by the District's online contract reporting) went to businesses which had donated to the campaign committee of at least one of the Commissioners voting on the contracts' approval.

All told, the Board approved 190 separate contracts for campaign donor businesses, totaling $722,543,566.27 in value.

Campaign Cash Nets Big Return on Investment at MWRD

Some of the most prolific donors to MWRD Commissioner campaign committees were also the recipients of some of the largest shares of contracting dollars, including $14,245,000 to construction company F. H. Paschen (donor to seven Commissioners' campaign committees), $28,516,848.74 to engineering firm Independent Mechanical Industries (six campaign committees), and $288,758,500 IHC Construction (six campaign committees). 

Other campaign donors that received MWRD contracts included law firms, office supply and tech companies, chemical and petroleum suppliers, trucking/hauling operations, and even global water privatization giant Veolia Water (the same firm that, as a private contractor, pronounced the water in Flint, MI fit to drink in 2015, shortly before that city's lead contamination became a national story). 

On average, firms that made direct donations to the campaign committees of MWRD Commissioners received $4,566.90 in contracts for every dollar they donated.

Contracts awarded to campaign donors were also significantly more valuable than contracts awarded to other firms: the average MWRD contractor over the five-year period examined received $684,031.66 in contracts from the District, while campaign donor firms received an average of $10,035,327.31—nearly fifteen times as much contracting income as non-donors. 

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